Gunnar, probably the most popular developer for computer eyewear, established itself as a reliable brand years ago. In fact, GeekDad first suggested them as a gift in the holiday season of 2009. The question du jour, though, is whether Gunnar’s products are still up to scratch. I was given a pair of Sheadog glasses in 2013, and they’ve served me well for five years. Today I get to introduce you to a new friend, the Phenom style.
Why Gunnar Glasses?
Gunnar’s diverse line of glasses share a core goal of protecting your eyes from computer strain. The frames are often a bit minimalist, so they don’t restrict your field of view. The lenses, though, are tinted in order to block the overly stimulating light emitted by our devices. Unlike prescription glasses, these don’t have a strength that has to be updated every year or two, so the cost is an investment in protecting your eyes rather than keeping up with changes in vision. Gunnar glasses keep their integrity and comfort for years, meaning you’ll rarely need to replace them. I’ve never had so much as a loose screw.
Why get a new pair?
Nothing lasts forever, and my old pair of Sheadog glasses held out for five years before normal wear got the better of them. Specifically, the coating began to degrade, possibly due to toting them all over creation, exposing them to extreme temperatures over time. This meant a loss of clarity, which made them unusable.
Why the Phenom design?
The Phenom style is loaded with useful features. Thanks to the lightweight aluminium/magnesium alloy construction and the micro-engineered lens locks, the design is solid and flexible. The lens tints came in four options, which meant I could get exactly the protection level I needed for my work. I think these are also much sturdier than my Sheadog frame, which wasn’t wimpy to begin with.
The Phenom is also surprisingly comfortable. I have a hard time finding glasses or hats that fit my large head, and these are comfortable without pressing on my temples. The arms are slightly bowed, which gives them room to fit around my head, and have small rubbery pads to keep them in place.
Of course, style is important, and I think the Phenom look awful nice in the mirror. It helps that my wife likes the look of them, too.
Customizing your pair:
The Phenom has several custom options that allow you to get exactly what you need. You can customize the frame color, the prescription strength and type (or lack of prescription), and the tint of the lenses. The frame comes in Onyx, Graphite, and Earth. The prescriptions come in Standard Rx, Premium Rx, and Progressive Rx. Finally, the lens tint comes in Amber, Liquet, Crystaline, and Work-Play.
Unfortunately, not all of these options are compatible, though, so you may have to play with the options on the product page to determine if the options you’d like are compatible.
Of course, for a purchase like this, cost is always a consideration. I can’t tell you what will be a good value for you and your needs, but I will say that it’s well worth the price tag for my needs. Depending on how often you need new prescriptions, or if that’s a factor for you at all, your mileage may vary for value. The Phenom starts at $99, but becomes more expensive for prescriptions. The Standard prescription rings in at $189, the Premium is $229, and the Progressive prescription is $249.
Do you need Gunnar glasses?
If you’re sitting in front of your monitor all day, you’d likely benefit from the protective qualities of the Gunnar products. I find that I get fewer headaches and have an easier time sleeping when I wear my Phenom glasses throughout the day. If you’re only in front of a screen for a small fraction of your day, your eye strain might be less of a factor for your eye health. If in doubt, consult your opthalmologist. Mine suggested, without hesitation, that I wear protective lenses every day to prevent further damage to my eyes and reduct headaches. Of course, I spend the better part of 12-15 hours in front of a screen every day.
Disclaimer: Gunnar provided a unit for review purposes.